Guard provides support for Charlie Battery families

Guard provides support for Charlie Battery families
The South Dakota National Guard is demonstrating its protective nature on two fronts: in Iraq, and in here an home, in Yankton, Vermillion and other local communities that are home to Charlie Battery.

"The first thing that we want to consider when we're dealing with the families of deployed soldiers is we want to respect their privacy and not be intrusive," said Sgt. 1st Class Shane Toupal who works out of the Yankton National Guard Armory.

For those individuals who need assistance when dealing with loved ones who are in harm's way, the Guard unit offers a family support group.

"Our unit has a very active family support group that involves the parents and spouses of deployed service members, as well as other relatives," Toupal said. "We actually utilized them immediately when the unit activated, and from there, the unit's family support group would usually meet monthly."

Family members have held two support meetings since Dec. 4, when two members of Charlie Battery were killed and three were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their HUMVEES in Baghdad.

"During those meetings,

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they advised on the various benefits and things that are available to Guard member as well as providing some help in identifying families that needed counseling. We refer those people to the appropriate counseling agency," he said.

Families have held meetings in Yankton, Mitchell and Sioux Falls.

Many Charlie Battery members may not have suffered injuries in Iraq, Toupal said. Their family members still welcome the comfort they receive from simply talking with someone.

"We do have grief counselors available for all of the families, because when you have a son or a daughter in the military, particularly in the National Guard, you get to know the other families around you," Toupal said. "When they have a loss or an injury, certainly you feel that loss or injury."

People who need assistance may contact the Yankton National Guard Armory at (605) 668-3040.

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